Monday, August 3, 2015

Learning to Slow Down

“Solitude is the soul’s holiday, an opportunity to stop doing for others 
and to surprise and delight ourselves instead.”
Katrina Kennison

When I was a kid playgrounds had merry-go-rounds where you held onto a bar, ran around in a circle to get up speed, then jumped up on the spinner where you sat in a dizzying state as the wheel slowed down. You couldn't do much more than hold on. The point of the ride, was to do it over and over again, letting each spin fill you with a weird sense of freedom. Especially if an adult or big kid was doing the spinning.
There were also times, as in life, you'd fall, legs splayed out behind you caught in the rut beneath the wheel, unless or until you let go of the bar. Then you limped home for a combo treatment of stinging, red mecuricome and a chocolate chip cookie.

All of us have spent time on that metaphorical merry go round. Either by our own choosing or at the hands of a mad twirler with no sense that things were beginning to fly out of control. On occasion we remember to slow the pace down, and relax into the ride, while the sounds and sights of the world remind us that slow and steady will get us where we want to go. 

And, yes, there are those times we are not prepared for when we fall - literally, figuratively, or spiritually - into an unexpected hole that stops us cold. We need help to stand up. We need a quiet, restful place to heal. We need chocolate chip cookies.

If you've been following my blog, you know that the merry-go-round in my brain has been going way too fast. Work? ALZ? Caregiving? Garage Sale? Move? I've been worried, anxious, angry, and tired most of the time. Weary even of things I love. I've been lost in a world of my own creating where too much noise buried the cries of my soul. I yearned for rest. Some ME time. A quiet, restful sanctuary where the only person I needed to think about was me.

In her recent blog post Katrina Kennison wrote what I longed for:

"… what a relief it would be to spend a whole day without talking. Without cleaning or washing or weeding or folding anything. Without make-up, without good cheer, without a to-do list, without getting in the car, without reaching for your wallet or your phone or the dog leash or the sponge."

I'm not alone with these kinds of thoughts. Ask anyone who juggles the myriad of balls it takes to get through a single day. Ask any of the millions of caregivers who use most of their energy caring for others but neglect to do the same for themselves.

While Terry Hershey's weekly Sabbath Moment newsletter encourages my fantasies to "Do Less. Live More" where/how does one find the time and space for such a holiday?

Obviously I don't know the answer to that question. I can tell you, however, fracturing your ankle is the not the way to do it. Sure, I now have many long hours to fill doing nothing. I've got someone who jumps to attention when I call his name. Friends have brought in delicious food I can eat without worrying about doing the dishes. Purple carnations, yellow-studded daisies and sweet-smelling roses brighten my little corner of the room. I'm connected via computer and cell phone to the outside world if I want to be. What, in other circumstances would be a sanctuary where I could relax into the rhythms of my soul, now feels more like toddler's "time out" - a punishment. I want to rest when I want to rest, not because the doctor told me I couldn't put my foot on the ground for 8 weeks.

My merry go round stopped too abruptly. I had no slow down time to adjust. There I was spinning in circles one minute, my butt growing roots to this chair the next.

Some might say "be careful what you ask for." Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the R and R. I just wish it didn't come with an 8 pound cast on my leg. At the end of this forced sabbatical, I hope to be restored to health and sanity. Right now I'm doing little more than holding on, or as Kennison writes:
"... resting, listening, waiting in the silence of your heart to feel the next step."

I'm hopeful that as the days progress, I will "dive down, naked, into the sacred quiet." Echoing the same sentiment Christine Valters Paintner writes, "This is my time to sink into myself and be present to the spirit moving through stillness.

This quiet time may not look the way I pictured it - room by the ocean, sound of waves tip toeing onto the shore - no clocks, no routine - but can be sacred nonetheless. For it to be so,  I must release my need to be in charge. I must give others the opportunity to care for me. I must learn the fine art of patience. I must look for God's divine presence in the most ordinary places. I'll be honest, it's going to take some work on my part.

"Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. 
It’s the way it is. 
The way you deal with it is what makes the difference."
Virginia Satir

Merry ME


Debbie said...

Just be glad that it's 'only an eight lb cast' word it could have been being locked in the stocks.

I really do get what you're saying. Meanwhile rest your body and your soul.

Have you tried any of the free on line jigsaw puzzles? They're actually pretty good. When I can't sleep and the wheels in my head keep going round and round I spend some time doing puzzles.

Maybe pull out a journal and write stories.

Changing gears isn't easy for any of us. There is no guide book....darn.

Maybe your writing friends could come for tea.

take care

Anonymous said...

Good advice from Debbie. Patience takes patience. Wish I could be there. In the meantime, this is good for Jacj and you, a sort of role reversal. ld